Do England have any chance of turning ODI series around?
James Faulkner’s heroics in Brisbane on Friday morning did so much more than win a game of cricket. Those final huge blows that took Australia to a most improbable victory broke England’s hearts.
If England had finished the job after having the Aussies tottering on 244-9 and chasing another 57 runs with only six overs remaining, this ODI series would be looking very different indeed.
It would have levelled things up at one win apiece and although Australia would still have been favourites, they would not have been at 1-50, as Coral have them now (England 14/1). This is not an overreaction: England have never come back from 2-0 down to win a five-match ODI series.
And just think what it would have done for morale. A victory at long last after five Test match hammerings, another defeat in the first ODI and a third squad member (Steven Finn following Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann) flying home, his technique in tatters.
Alastair Cook looked at his wits end when interviewed after the game and he must be wondering just what he can do to both raise the spirits of the team and find an answer to his own batting problems with such a short time until the third ODI gets under way in Sydney on Sunday morning (GMT).
But in the cold light of day, maybe Cook will see some positives. To begin with, England would have slammed the door shut on Australia from the position they were in, say, 19 times out of 20. And for the first time this winter, they were given a proper game.
He can also now welcome back Stuart Broad (11/4 to take most wickets), rested for the first two games, and England’s bowling attack should be much more effective with him in it rather than the largely disappointing Boyd Rankin.
And then there is the way the batsmen at last came to terms with Mitchell Johnson. The man of the Test series took just 1-59, a poorer return than achieved by England’s part-time spinner Joe Root, who took 2-46. Oh, and Root also outscored Johnson with the bat by the same score: 2-1.
Gary Ballance, Joss Buttler and Eoin Morgan have also shone with the bat, although it was worrying to see the last-named, who struck a sublime 106, including six sixes, hobbling off the pitch with a calf injury later in the match.
Perhaps after all this may have been a turning point in disguise for England and they will now see the job right through to the end in Sydney to at least keep the series alive.
You can back them at 2/1 with Coral if you believe that or Australia at 4/11 if you think it will be still more of the same.